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Friends groom together. Photo: Ronan Donovan

In our old age, humans tend to invest in fewer but more positive relationships. A new study of wild chimpanzees finds they seem to do the same.

The big picture: Prioritizing relationships as we age is thought to be tied to our unique awareness of our mortality, but the new findings suggest "social selectivity can emerge in the absence of complex future-oriented cognition," the authors write today in the journal Science.

What they did: Alexandra Rosati of the University of Michigan and colleagues used data from a two-decade-long study of wild chimpanzees in Uganda's Kibale National Park.

  • They looked at the interactions of 21 male chimpanzees — which socialize more often — ranging in age from 15 to 58 years old, and categorized them as "mutual friends," "one-sided friends" or "non friends."

What they found: The number of mutual friends a chimpanzee had increased with age while their one-sided friendships decreased.

  • By studying grooming habits, they report "chimpanzees invested more, and invested more equitably, in mutual relationships than one-sided ones, and older adults had more mutual friendships than younger adults did."
  • They also found the chimpanzees had fewer aggressive interactions as they got older.

How it works: Our perspective on our lives may drive our social behavior later in life, but the new findings suggest there may be other aging-related factors — for us and other species without the awareness of mortality.

  • In chimpanzees, their emotions become more stable as they age or they may be maximizing their chances to mate, even in old age, the NYT's James Gorman writes.
  • The findings "'should make us think twice' about the roots of some human behaviors," Ian Gilby, a behavioral ecologist at Arizona State University, Tempe, who was not involved in the study, told Science's Lucy Hicks.

Go deeper

53 mins ago - World

Blinken says he hasn't seen evidence Hamas was in AP building Israel struck

Smoke rises after sraeli forces destroyed building in Gaza City where Al-Jazeera and Associated Press had their offices. Photo: Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday he had not seen evidence that Hamas was operating in a building that housed offices for Al Jazeera, the AP and other media in the Gaza Strip, as the Israeli government has claimed, AP reports.

Why it matters: Israel has said the presence of a Hamas military intelligence office justified an airstrike that destroyed the 12-story building on Saturday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday that Israeli intelligence had shared proof with the U.S.

AT&T spins off WarnerMedia, forming new media behemoth with Discovery

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

AT&T and Discovery have agreed to create a joint venture that would house WarnerMedia’s premium entertainment, sports and news assets with Discovery's nonfiction and international entertainment and sports businesses, the companies announced Monday.

Why it matters: It's a major course correction by AT&T. The deal essentially confirms shareholder fears that the company's $85 billion merger with Time Warner three years ago was not fully baked.

2 hours ago - Health

Child tax credits from COVID relief plan to begin arriving July 15

Biden arrives in the Rose Garden on May 13. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The expanded monthly child tax credit introduced in President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package will begin arriving in parents' bank accounts on July 15, the White House said Monday.

Why it matters: The credit, part of the administration's plan to transform the country's social safety net in the wake of the pandemic, would provide families with $300 monthly cash payments per child up to age 5 and $250 for children ages 6–17.